President Obama: Invite These 5 Education Leaders to the White House

News is out this week that President Obama will convene a White House meeting of leaders to talk about ways to make college more affordable.

It’s an important conversation with an even more important goal. Too many colleges are pricing students out, requiring them to take out college loans that can erode their futures.

Here are five people who should be in the room, leaders with ideas and perspectives that both the President and the public need to hear:

Anthony Carnevale- Director, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

As much or more than anyone, Carnevale has studied and written about the growing disconnect between America’s elite colleges and those they are supposed to serve. He’s written at length about how colleges can better prepare tomorrow’s workforce and studied how policies such as legacy admissions and tax-free foundations are distorting who gets into colleges and who really pays the bills.

David Feldman – Chair, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary

Feldman (and co-author Robert B. Archibald) literally wrote the book on growth in college costs, concluding that economic growth and demand are as responsible for soaring costs as anything else. Since there will likely be more than one person in the room with Obama who concludes that college costs are tied to pensions and raising salaries for rock-star professors, or to outsized and growing administrative costs, putting the increases in a different economic context will be invaluable to any lasting solution.

Anthony Marx – former President, Amherst College. President, New York Public Library

Having run an elite private school for more seven years, but no longer a member of that exclusive order, he can (and does) speak the truth about what’s driving college costs and what it’s doing to the entire system. And as President of the New York Public Library, he also knows about how to transition large institutions (libraries) into new roles (the digital age).

Eduardo Padrón – President, Miami-Dade College

Padrón runs the largest college (not including online colleges) in the nation. Clearly, whatever policy suggestions come out of the President’s chat, community colleges will play a role. They educate roughly half of all undergraduate students, and they do it for far less than our four-year universities. They also offer a path to a four-year degree for many low-income, minority, and first generation college students. Few people in the country know more about how to leverage the power of community colleges to lower costs – and increase college attendance - than Padrón.

Diane Ravitch – Research Professor of Education at New York University, education historian

I don’t always agree with her, but there’s no getting around the fact that she is an outspoken education reformer. While she’s made her mark mostly in the k-12 space and as a crusader against privatization, she’s thoughtful about higher education too, and, importantly, understands the fallacy of market “reforms” in the education space.

I can’t wait to see who’s on the guest list.